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Fandango (featuring Joe Lynn Turner): The Complete RCA Albums 1977-1980

There are a couple of interesting points about the full title to this four disc retrospective from HNE/Cherry Red of the band Fandango. Firstly, as the reissue specialists continue their comprehensive look at the extended Rainbow family (Ronnie James Dio's Elf and Graham Bonnet's numerous outfits already having received the re-release treatment), the need to highlight the involvement of the third man to front Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, Joe Lynn Turner, is key, due to Fandango's criminal lack of commercial success. While secondly, adding 'The Complete RCA Albums' to the name would suggest Fandango released more than the four albums contained here, which they didn't.

What they did do between 1977 and 1980 however, was to release four excellent melodic rock and AOR albums that really deserved more notice than ever came their way. Forming in 1976, Fandango were initially the five piece of Turner on vocals – and guitar – Rick Blakemore on guitar, Bob Danyls on bass, Denny La Rue on keyboards and Abe Speller on drums; the latter soon replaced by Lou Mondelli who played on one song on the band's self titled 1977 debut and all their subsequent releases. Not long after, second keyboard man Larry Dawson would swell the band's ranks alongside percussionist Walter Santos and piano player Joe De Lia.

Combining the smooth AOR the likes of Boston were already hitting the heights with, to the country edge of The Eagles and the Allman Brothers - and the merest hint of Toto's jazzy west coast - the band's debut still stands up to this day. "Headliner" pulsates and politely pounds the album into life, while "Down Down Down" ably illustrates that Fandango could smooch and soothe with the best of them. Turner it has to be said is immense, his totally unforced vocals already scintillating and exciting in equal measure. They are also perfect for the easy going but technical fare the band produced, Blakemore no slouch, while the keyboard interplay is a joy to behold. Factor in the jazzy slide of "Life Of The Party" and the pure AOR of "Devil Rain" and fathoming how Fandango failed to make an early impact is anyone's guess.

A year later and 1978's Last Kiss, produced as the debut had been by Neil Portnow, followed in the same style, the title track smooth, yet insistent in a Journey meets The Eagles sort of way, while "Sure Got The Power" adds a smack of hard rock to the mix, the guitar duo possibly the most cranked they'd been to this point. "Mexico" is almost funk-soul in its approach, although "Hotel La Rue" again adds a country boogie to the melodic rock concoction. With "Feel The Pain" a mid paced rocker and "I Keep Going/Hard Bargain", where Danyls also handles lead vocals, again putting the foot a little heavier on the gas, while their focus may be pulled all over the place, Fandango could rock with the best of them.

Allan Blazek was at the production desk for album number three, One Night Stand taking place in 1979. With his introduction, the focus changes ever so slightly as Turner and Blakemore's guitars take more obvious and frequent bows in the spotlight. That doesn't mean that there isn't still room for the funky, almost disco R&B of "Late Nights', or that "Dancer" isn't AOR-lite of the highest order. But with "Hard Headed Woman" biting and snarling, "Hard Man (Bless My Soul)" almost possessing an AC/DC like swagger (but not quite) and "Two Time Loser" trying but failing not to sound like a complete rip off of Free's "Alright Now" - Turner even adds a "hey-yeah!" in the intro, just in case you missed the riff being lifted from the world wide smash – while One Night Stand is hardly a bristling metal monster, it certainly has a harder attack and one that suited Fandango down to the ground.

On the road promoting the album tragedy struck Fandango, $80,000 worth of their equipment being driven off by thieves after a show with the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and the Allman Brothers, leaving the band broke, nearly busted and thoroughly dejected. RCA helped as best they could, giving $30,000 to the outfit to get them back on their feet, while the decision was also taken for the band members to sign away their publishing rights to raise some cash. In truth, as Turner confirms in the excellent Malcolm Dome penned liner notes, the life had been sucked out of Fandango by these events and it was inevitable the band would split, but somehow and even through inter band squabbles over song writing and pretty much everything else, they managed to record the best album of their brief time together in shape of 1980's Cadillac.

With fire in their bellies from losing their gear and the inter-band wrangling, a heavier melodic rock attack was suddenly in evidence, the uncharitable among us possibly able to suggest that Ritchie Blackmore didn't just nick Fandango's singer for his Difficult To Cure album, but also their sound… Throughout there's a newfound bite and focus on Cadillac and whether through the sharp tumble of "Blame It On The Night" and its instantly memorable chorus, the keyboard driven, percussive pulsating "Hypnotized", or the quirkier, almost Max Webster like title track, this is an album that knows exactly what its all about. The only disappointment here is that in a four disc set that has a universally solid sound, "Rock 'N Roll You" and its trademark Joe Lynn Turner vocal suffers from an annoying distortion/crackle under the band's heaviest riff. It's the only time this issue appears across the whole four disc pack, but considering this is one of the band's best efforts, it's frustrating nonetheless.

With little in the way of bonuses – only mono versions of "Last Kiss", "Late Nights" and "Blame It On The Night" - it is worth highlighting that this four disc set comes in a beautiful clam shell box where each album is housed in a miniature original sleeve, has excellent liner notes and, with that one notable exception, possesses a really solid sound. Whether you're a long term Fandango/Turner fan, or someone exploring the wider Rainbow family for the first time, this is the set for you.


Track Listing
DISC ONE: FANDANGO: 1977
1. HEADLINER
2. DOWN DOWN DOWN
3. JESSE AND WILL
4. SAN JOAQUIN
5. LIFE OF THE PARTY
6. SHADOW BOXING
7. HELPLESS HEART
8. DEVIL RAIN
9. MISERY ROADv 10. GOIN' DOWN FOR THE LAST TIME


DISC TWO: LAST KISS: 1978
1. LAST KISS
2. SURE GOT THE POWER
3. MEXICO
4. LOSIN' KIND OF LOVE
5. HOTEL LA RUE
6. FEEL THE PAIN
7. CITY OF ANGELS
8. THE MILL'S ON FIRE
9. I KEEP GOING/HARD BARGAIN
BONUS TRACK
10. LAST KISS (MONO VERSION)


DISC THREE: ONE NIGHT STAND: 1979
1. ONE NIGHT STAND
2. THIEF IN THE NIGHT
3. HARD MAN (BLESS MY SOUL)
4. HARD HEADED WOMAN
5. I WOULD NEVER LEAVE
6. DANCER
7. LITTLE CHERIE
8. LATE NIGHTS
9. TWO TIME LOSER
10. AIN'T NO WAY
BONUS TRACK
11. LATE NIGHTS (MONO VERSION)


DISC FOUR: CADILLAC: 1980
1. BLAME IT ON THE NIGHT
2. ROCK 'N ROLL YOU
3. HYPNOTIZED
4. DON'T WASTE MY TIME
5. STRANGER
6. CADILLAC
7. FORTUNE TELLER
8. GETAWAY
9. HEADLINER
BONUS TRACK
10. BLAME IT ON THE NIGHT (MONO VERSION)

Added: June 10th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Complete RCA Albums 1977-1980 at Cherry Re
Hits: 148
Language: english

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